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12 Rounds review – Die Hard: With a Vengeance again

Submitted by on May 31, 2009 – 7:29 pm3 Comments

12roundsCan I please have a show of hands as to who has seen: any of the series, Speed or even Dirty Harry. Now that the whole world has put their respective hands up, the question as to why anyone would want to see needless explosions and a cop running around a town is answered, before it is asked.

Unfortunately you may notice from the synopsis that it bears a striking resemblance to Die Hard: With a Vengeance. If you are going to follow in the same path of a specific type of film then it is always best not to copy it. Otherwise there would be no point in bothering!


Detective Danny Fisher discovers his girlfriend has been kidnapped by an ex-con tied to Fisher’s past, and he’ll have to successfully complete 12 challenges in order to secure her safe release.


Let’s get straight! 12 Rounds is not about a detective having to pass through 12 problems or puzzles. Danny Fisher (played by Cena) actually only storms through 10 of them. The first two are simply:

  1. the bad guy takes Fisher’s house 
  2. the bad guy takes Fisher’s woman!

If only I had tests like this in life where the first two problems were solved by the examiner! The explanation for there being 12 rounds specifically, is not explained adequately. It is because some guns hold twelve rounds? Does the director only play 12 rounds of golf? Who knows? In fact, who really cares at this point?

John Cena is adequate as a character. Unfortunately it takes about 20 minutes before you realise who our protagonist is to be. Perhaps it is the flamboyant use of shaky cam or the fact that the director focuses on every single character on screen initially. This technique could perhaps be congratulated if it wasn’t for the overall confusion. After about 27 minutes the story begins which makes you wonder why it didn’t start from there in the first place (and play the lengthy beginning, in flashback).

Make no mistake, 12 Rounds is not going to be liked by everybody. In fact it feels as if it is geared towards only one specific group of : young teenage boys who have never seen Dirty Harry, any of the Die Hard series or Speed. It is a partial success at filling these shoes. I say “partial” because I’m being polite. What I really mean is that 12 Rounds is nothing like the aforementioned classics. It does have a certain charm though.

Sadly it was decided that John Cena’s character be accompanied by whole police divisions and various other emergency services. Die Hard 1 and 2, Dirty Harry and Speed worked because of its “lone wolf” dynamic. Even in Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Die Hard 4.0 Bruce Willis only had one sidekick (Samuel L Jones). John Cena’s Fisher needs several departments assisting him. It would have been better if the department were chasing him and his original partner was onscreen on a full-time basis.

Only a ago, if asked whether any wrestler could make a good actor I would have said “absolutely not”. In fact I would have slapped you for asking such a silly question as Hulk Hogan has shown us that this was not the case! Interestingly though Dwayne Johnson has shown that he really can hold his own. Perhaps he is not to everyone’s taste but I dare you all to challenge his acting abilities in Southland Tales…I dare you! John Cena then, shows that he is on the way to become a suitable action star (he certainly has the build). Perhaps he is not as charismatic as Johnson but I’m confident that Cena has the ability to keep getting better and better. If only he had not started in what can only be described as a copy/paste film!

When all is said and done though, 12 Rounds is a watchable film. Unfortunately it is a story that has been told before, by many people and a better. It is only a truly recommended film if you haven’t seen any of the films mentioned above…and if you haven’t, you may want to hire them out! Unfortunately I have seen all of the above mentioned films and can only compare this, to them. What with with bomb-on-bus style sequences and a bad guy who looks and sounds like an Irish Ed Norton, I wasn’t so impressed!


A silly film with lots of explosions with a competent wrestler-come-actor and an Irish man who resembles Edward Norton (on a bad hair day). Nevertheless 12 Rounds despite its inaccurate title, is a manageable watch. John Cena required a sidekick though as his most comfortable scenes were with company…lots of company.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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